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A. own reminiscences "'0.." ...... "" success. their the Memoirs have merits not to art, but to its on men and sections tRaber! Laird Borden: His Memoirs, edited and a Preface by Henry Borden~ and an Introduction by the Rt: Hon. Arthur ~"..II;;l!:,>HI;H, The Macmillan of Canada) $10.00 set. 227 228 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO II REVIEWS 229 seventies. In stating that, one may not be saying much, since coherent and powerful thought has not been conspicuous in the formal programmes of Canadian parties. In discussing practical questions his analytical mind usually showed itself to good effect. He took justifiable pride in the fact that his railway recommendations of 1903, if adopted, would undoubtedly have saved the country from many of the acute difficulties that ensued. While critical of the railway policy of Laurier, in the Memoirs he appreciates the powerful pressures operating upon the Liberals at the time: the enthusiastic encouragement of the busin,ess interests which saw prosperity in a vast expenditure of money; the relentless insistence of the French on a transcontinental line that would cut through northern Quebec and terminate at Quebec city (and a French Prime Minister was peculiarly vulnerable to such pressure ); the equally vigorous insistence of the Maritimes on the extension of the 'transcontinental to Moncton; and the eagerness among the rank and file of the Liberal electioneers to sponsor a third transcontinental, partly because of a traditional Grit hostility to the Canadian Pacific, and partly because of the advantage 'of cultivating the friendship of a new flock of contractors, a friendship valuable in the election of 1904, when (Borden laments) the Liberals had the money on their side. When the railway crisis occurred in the period of the War, he was too much harassed by his many labours to give all the time to it that he wished, although in 1916 its gravity was such that he feared a dissolution would be necessary. From his narrative two facts emerge c1ear1y~ his conviction in favour of public ownership , and the political considerations which led to its adoptio~l as a plank in his party's platform. He had sincerely championed the principle of public ownership in railways for years before inescapable circumstances forced it upon an embarrassed government. As early as 1906 he had contended for the ownership and operation of railways as a national function: "The gift of a great national franchise, accompanied by huge public subsidies, under such conditions as will result in pouring into the pockets of a few fortunate individuals an enormous share of the wealth created by the settlement and development of our country is neither prudent nor statesmanlike."2 In the Halifax address of 1907, wherein he outlined a programme 2j\1emoirs, I, p. 171. 230 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO consistent service. He was "'1-"0-.....,""'.... in the House of .........,'.....I.,'u...,•.I..I.., was an attack upon and in, ill or outside aSee the pledges of the Liberal-Conservative party I. p. 324). The Laurier Cabinet had shrunk from the public ownership of elevators advocated by the grain growers, and the Conservatives werej promising to give something refused by the government. REVIEWS 231 notably in the Halifax Speech of 1907, he frequently made the merit principle an issue. The formation of the Union Governmen t afforded the opportunity of carrying the act of 1918, which gave a virtual death-blow to the dominance of party influence upon appointments to the service.4 Despite his confidence that appointment according to merit would mean an immensely more efficient administration, he was always emphatic that such industries as railways, when owned or administered by the state, should not be brought under an ordinary department of government. As a Nova Scotian he had observed how lamentably direct party pressure on the Minister of Railways had reduced efficiency in the Intercolonial Railway, and he was convinced that such utilities should be managed by commissions or corporations, independent of direct party pressures and the influence of patronage committees. How far he appreciated, or even foresaw, the more difficult and subtle problems of administration associated with these principles, is not clear; but at least his persistent enunciation of the principles was...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 227-234
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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